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Illustration by   Ghostbat

Illustration by Ghostbat

Wheels in Motion: A secret society fights the tyranny of trash

Baltimore’s favorite trash wheel has it all: a daily diet of litter, a namesake beer from Peabody Heights Brewery, and now, a not-so-secret national society dedicated to ridding the world of trash.

Inspired by Mr. Trash Wheel—the downtown water wheel that captures debris from the Jones Falls River—and its thousands of internet fans, the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore has launched a social media campaign to muster grassroots environmental action. This March, with the help of grants from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the Order of the Wheel was born.

The exclusive club comes with a fictional centuries-old backstory and benefits like a secret handshake, special merchandise, and quirky code names such as Garbage McTrashface and Barnacle Churnerton. But joining is not so easy; applicants have to be selected by a board of “Great Grand Wheelers” to become a pledge. Then, pledges have to complete five assigned tasks—like decorating oil receptacles and purging plasticware—and share their completed missions on social media with the hashtag #OrderOfTheWheel to be inducted as an official member. So far, there are more than 1,600 people pledging across the U.S…

Photo by   Mike Morgan

Photo by Mike Morgan

Guitar Heroes: Two brothers run a little music store that could.

Inside an old brick rowhome on North Charles Street, the walls are lined with dangling guitars, vibrant show posters, and a cheeky “No Stairway to Heaven” sign to keep patrons from playing the opening lick of Led Zeppelin’s ubiquitous song. 

In a time when large corporations and online retailers swallow up mom-and-pop shops, there are still a few determined fighters, like siblings Brian and Ian Goldstein with their new-and-used instrument store, fittingly named Brothers Music, in Station North. Three years ago, the brothers—hobby musicians of the former Towson band Evolve—noticed a lack of independent music shops in Baltimore.

Two-and-a-half months later, the Goldsteins, along with Ian’s now-wife Jenny, opened Brothers with no past business experience and used equipment from Craigslist to stock their shop. In between their full-time careers (Ian, right, is a government affairs specialist in Washington, D.C., and Brian, left, is a special education public school teacher), the brothers have grown the store to include drums, locally made pedals, and even rare pieces, like a 1966 12-string Wurlitzer. But Brothers Music is more than a cozy shop with a “Corporate Chains Still Suck” motto… 

Photo by Micah Castelo

Photo by Micah Castelo

Highlights from Women of the World Festival in Baltimore

As a panelist, I got a front row seat to talks about inclusivity, gender equality, and womanhood.

Last Saturday, Notre Dame of Maryland Universityhosted the second iteration of the Women of the World (WOW) Festival, a one-day event that featured a full schedule of panels, performances, workshops, and activities addressing the challenges and accomplishments of women and girls today. As a panelist, I had the opportunity to attend the event, hear from incredible activists, and reflect on the conversations and sessions throughout the day.

Since its launch in 2010 by Southbank Centre artist director Jude Kelly, the WOW Festival has become a visionary movement fighting for gender equality across the globe. It has reached nearly two million people in countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, India, and Pakistan, to name a few. And while it’s only been two years since the festival was first held in Baltimore, it’s been a huge success, bringing in famed speakers and attracting large crowds.

Maricka Oglesby, WOW Baltimore curator and producer, explains that Kelly thought the university was the perfect place to host the event, especially as the last standing all-women’s college in Maryland. “We have similar missions of transforming the world, and this is how it comes about—through sharing ideas, concepts, and experiences,” Oglesby says…

Photo by   Mike Morgan

Photo by Mike Morgan

Love Letters

Part of Baltimore Magazine’s “Hottest ‘Hoods” package

When Angie and Emilio Penaranda were shopping for their first home in 2014, they faced some competition they were unprepared for: The young couple found themselves vying against four other offers for the end-unit townhome in Crofton that they really wanted.

But their Realtor, Suren Adams of Adams Realty, had a card up her sleeve: She suggested upping the asking price by $2,000, but also writing the seller a short letter about why their home was the one.

“We’d never heard of the strategy before,” says Angie, a 30-year-old NICU nurse. “But I truly think that our letter genuinely showed our love for the home. It made the owner appreciate selling her home to people who she felt would love it as much as she did.”

Even today, crafting a cover letter seems to be a viable option for home buyers aiming to triumph in a bidding war, similar to all-cash offers and waiving contingencies, according to new data published by Redfin, a national real estate brokerage based in Seattle. After analyzing an estimated 14,000 competing offers nationwide in 2016 and 2017, Redfin tracked the effects of bidding strategies on raising a prospective buyer’s odds of success…